09/30 23:58 CDT Mariners' 21-year playoff wait ends on Raleigh's walk-off HR
Mariners' 21-year playoff wait ends on Raleigh's walk-off HR
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) --- Cal Raleigh hit a game-winning home run with two outs in the
bottom of the ninth inning and the Seattle Mariners ended the longest playoff
drought in baseball with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday
Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, hit a 3-2 pitch from Domingo Acevedo
(3-4) just inside the right-field foul pole for a solo homer that sent the
Mariners to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Seattle's celebration on the field lasted more than 10 minutes as fans and
players lifted themselves from the burden of two decades without seeing
playoffs from their baseball team.
It indeed had been a long wait --- the last time the Mariners advanced to play
spotlight games in October, the team was led by rookie Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar
Martinez and managed by Lou Piniella.
As has been the case for most of this season with the Mariners, their 86th win
and the one that sent them back to the playoffs happened in the most stressful
way possible. Seattle was unable to solve Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk and an
assembly line of relievers for eight innings, held only to Ty France's RBI
double that scored Dylan Moore two batters into the game.
Acevedo struck out Mitch Haniger and Carlos Santana to open the ninth, but
Raleigh came through with his 26th home run of the season, the most ever by a
Aside from the clinching a spot in the postseason, Seattle stayed 1 1/2 games
behind Toronto for the top wild-card spot and one half-game ahead of Tampa Bay
as the three continue to jockey for seeding.
But the place in the standings didn't matter on this night. It was all about
punching the final AL ticket and ending two decades without the guarantee of
Seattle's berth ended the longest active playoff drought in any of the four
major professional sports, a dubious honor that now falls to the Sacramento
Kings, who have not made the NBA playoffs since the 2005-06 season. The
Mariners are still the only current team never to have played in the World
The last time the Mariners reached the postseason they tied a major league
record by winning 116 games in the regular season, but lost to the Yankees 3-1
in the AL Championship Series.
Seattle's Logan Gilbert threw a career-high eight innings, allowing three hits.
His only mistake was a home run by Shea Langeliers in the second inning.
Gilbert retired 18 of the final 20 batters he faced and set down the A's in
order in each of his final four innings. Seth Brown walked leading of the
seventh but was retired on a double play.
Gilbert struck out four and walked off the mound after the eighth to a standing
ovation and the plea from fans for a run.
Matt Brash (4-4) struck out a pair in the ninth and set the stage for Raleigh.
Mariners: OF Julio Rodrguez remains on track to return Monday when he's
eligible to come off the injured list due to a lower back strain. Rodriguez
continued to increase his baseball activity on Friday, manager Scott Servais
The Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America presented
its year end awards before the game. Rodrguez was voted player of the year.
Gilbert was voted pitcher of the year. And Eugenio Surez received the Unsung
Award for his performance on the field and leadership in the clubhouse.
Athletics: LHP JP Sears (6-3, 4.22) makes his 12th start of the season and
ninth since joining the A's. Sears is 3-3 with a 5.36 ERA in his starts with
Oakland, but beat the Mariners on Sept. 20 allowing one unearned run in five
Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (7-6, 3.06) looks to rebound from two subpar
starts. Castillo allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sept. 20 in a loss to
Oakland and gave up five earned runs in his last start against Kansas City.
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